John Day River - Clarno Bridge to Cottonwood Bridge - May 24, 2005

Never had a trip so hard to nail down. Just too many variables and permutations. Only one of the four planned Portlander's made the trip due to a variety of reasons. That left the same crew that did the Colorado last fall. George from Portland, Duncan from Baton Rouge, and myself from Phoenix. Duncan's son Matthew, a first time river runner, completed the crew.

The original fear was that there would not be enough water to float. Fortunately, a wide-spread rain-front passed through slowly just prior to the launch. In fact, two days before putting in, the discussion was would we launch if flow stays this high. Flow turned out to be excellent.

Launch was set for the 25th from Clarno Bridge with the takeout scheduled for Cottonwood on the 1st. We ran our own shuttle with round trip driving time being roughly three hours. The John Day doesn't have any close-by car camping. So when it looked like there would be enough light to launch after meeting up on the 24th, launch it was. As compared to the slot-canyon, ruin-hunting type of day hikes prevalent on most trips, there was not much in the way of hiking. Although very scenic, essentially any spot hikable was a cow pasture. The early launch combined with fast flow and minimal hiking enabled an early take-out on the 30th. The Prineville BLM office serves as the river management agency.

Click images to view trip report details.

Trip report image
USGS flow link image